An Old TV Favorite (#blogboost)

Desperate for something to publish out here to complete the Ultimate Blog Challenge, I Googled “blog ideas.” There is a veritable plethora of pages out there that address the topic, including this one. One of the questions was “What show from your childhood would you love to bring back?”

A TV like the one we had at home when I was younger. (source:
A TV like the one we had at home when I was younger. (source:

The answer is simple: practically all of them. That’s a topic for another time.

There is one show that I wish was still on that I watched as a young adult: A. M. Weather.

A. M. Weather logo
A. M. Weather logo

This used to air on WTTW in Chicago at 6:30 AM during the week. I would get up, make coffee, and turn the TV on and watch the color bars until WTTW signed on in the morning so that I wouldn’t miss anything. (If you want to get some idea of what that was like, head on over to and watch this clip. I’d embed it, but seems that WordPress doesn’t like the code.)

What was so good about this show?

  • The presenters were real meteorologists. These weren’t communications majors who were getting their start in television. These were real, honest-to-God, NOAA meteorologists. They might not have been the best presenters (though I thought they were pretty good), but they knew what they were talking about.
  • They used real weather map symbols. If it was going to rain, you could look at the symbol and know whether it was light rain (one dot), moderate rain (two dots), or heavy rain (three dots). I loved weather maps as a kid, and learned what all the symbols meant. I never saw any of the local forecasters using them; most people had no idea what they were. If you wrote to the show, they would send you a chart of them.
  • They did the aviation forecast. This was especially helpful on the days that I traveled. Like my mother, I hate flying through turbulence, and it was nice to know if I was going to encounter any as I was on my way somewhere.
  • I learned a lot about the weather. Local weather forecasts are great, but they rarely go into depth. These folks explained what was happening.
  • I just liked it. It was a good way to get the mind working after being asleep all night. I’m sure the coffee had a lot to do with it, but it was no-nonsense, intelligent TV. There wasn’t a lot of chit-chat, the show followed a standard format, and the meteorologists were professional, but friendly. On Fridays, they’d give the address where you could write to them, and they sounded like they liked hearing from viewers.

Mary and I were subscribers to WTTW for many years, and this was one of the reasons I was always happy to renew our subscription. This, and Monty Python, and Doctor Who, and The Two Ronnies…

Do you have a favorite show that you wish would return?


Whoa! Am I Behind… (#blogboost)

I’m what, five entries short on the Ultimate Blog Challenge? OMG! I’ll have to double up like crazy now…

There’s a good reason for it, though: I have a couple of possibilities on the job front. One called yesterday and sounds quite promising. It has me shifting gears from refreshing my PHP skills to refreshing my Ruby on Rails skills.

The logo of Ruby on Rails (source: Wikimedia Commons)
The logo of Ruby on Rails (source: Wikimedia Commons)

It has me kind of rushing around because I’ve discovered that a lot of the procedures for it have changed since I last worked on it. But it’s all coming back.

I’m also learning Git, the version control system that’s au courant these days.

Git logo (source: Wikimedia Commons)
Git logo (source: Wikimedia Commons)

What I’ve found about all of these server-side languages is that they’re all fairly close. Both RoR and PHP make use (or can make use) of the model-view-controller concept. I’m not going to get into a long discussion of that (I can see eyes rolling back), but suffice it to say that, if you know it for one language, you know it for all of them.

Anyway, wish me luck! We now return you to our regularly scheduled program.

Two For Tuesday: The Little River Band (#blogboost)

One of the bad habits that radio stations have is not telling you the name of either a song or the artist that does it. They’ll do maybe five in a row, and you’ll like the third of the set, but never quite catch its name or the name of the artist who did it. Maybe the set runs into a commercial break, or you get to the office and have to go in before finding out what it was. Such is the case with me and Melbourne, Australia’s Little River Band. They’ve been around since 1975, I’ve heard practically all of their US hits, but, to this day, I’m hearing songs of theirs and saying “They did that one?”

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: I worked third shift in the winter of 1978, and when I’d come home from work I was in no mood to go to bed, so I’d turn on the radio to WFYR, an erstwhile “lite-rock” station in the Chicago area, brew a pot of coffee, and sit and read the Sun-Times until I was tired enough to go to sleep. One of the tunes that I would hear every morning was our first song, “Reminiscing,” from 1978’s Sleeper Catcher. I fell in love with it almost immediately, and soon I wouldn’t go to bed until I had heard it. As it became less popular, I’d leave the radio on when I went to bed, but always seemed to miss it. It’s been played on US radio stations over five million times since it came out and peaked at #3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and #10 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Our second tune today is “Take It Easy On Me,” from 1981’s Time Exposure. It reached #10 on the Hot 100 and #14 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Almost 40 years and numerous personnel changes later, the Little River Band is still making music. They’re you Two for Tuesday, October 22, 2013.

#ROW80: Where did I go?

A funny thing happened to me on my way to the Ultimate Blog Challenge: I got busy. Recruiters were calling me saying that they had jobs, then backed off when they heard that I had to work at home. Seems they missed the “100% telecommute” on the resume. But I’m also learning that I have a bunch of resumes out there that DON’T say that… seems that I listened to someone’s advice not to put that on a resume…

It’s been busy anyway. I have been taking several free online classes through the library, and they’re all coming to an end at the end of this week. I get a certificate at the end of one them that tells the world that I know how to do mobile programming in HTML 5  (I took it by accident, but I’ve had a good time in it and learned a lot).

Here’s a summary of the week:

  • Come up with 50 ideas a week: Came up with ten pretty good ones. Some of them are story ideas, some are ideas for other areas in my life. They’re still not flowing freely, but they’re getting there. I told someone that to come up with 50 ideas a week, you have to accept that some of them re going to be lousy.
  • Ultimate Blog Challenge/NaNoWriMo: A little behind again on the UBC. I caught up last week, I’ll catch up this week. The novel idea that I had for NaNo wasn’t working out, so I’ve come up with an alternative, one that isn’t (entirely) fiction: it’s a memoir of sorts, an idea that Mary has been after me to do for a while, putting all of the silly stories about my family on paper. I think I have a good 50,000 words there.
  • Read a half hour a day: Been doing more than that. Finished a couple of books, in fact, and Mary and I have been listening to books on CD. I’d tell you about the books, but maybe I’ll wait and do those as separate blog entries.
  • Build sample websites to demonstrate my programming skill: I figured out that it would be better to concentrate on one language. I chose PHP (stands for “PHP, Hypertext Preprocessor”). There are several code generators that make programming much simpler, among them CakePHP and Zend. I installed CakePHP on Friday and did the sample application, and was impressed. It did about 80% of the job for me. Zend looks similar; I’ll  be trying that next. I have a couple of ideas for sample websites that I’ll at least start to build this week.
  • Join FlexJobs: I’m putting this off until December, as I mentioned last week.

That’s all for this week. Hope your week has been as good.

Showing Up and Paying Attention (#blogboost)

Jenny Hansen, who I consider one of the best bloggers out there, wants her readers to finish this sentence with one word: Life is all about ________.

Naturally, when I answered the question, I used two words: showing up. I don’t read directions very well…

I was paraphrasing Woody Allen, of course. He said that “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

If showing up is eighty percent of success, what’s the other twenty?


It’s not enough be there physically and have your mind off in a thousand different places, is it? Like the parents who show up to their kid’s soccer game (feel free to replace “soccer game” with the activity of your choice) and spend all their time on the phone or reading and replying to their email? Or showing up on a date and spending the whole time on Twitter or Facebook? (I’m guilty of both, by the way. It’s like crack, ain’t it?)

Henna Inam, the CEO of Transformational Leadership, Inc. here in Atlanta, wrote an article recently that suggested that we have a “24/7 normal” today, one in which the world doesn’t stop when you go home from work, and suggested seven paradigms for coping with this new normal. Number 5 on her list is “move from managing time to managing attention.” Whatever you’re doing is what you’re focused on. Multi-tasking is a myth, she says; she quotes Albert Einstein, who said “Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”

It seems like I have a hundred things going on these days. Daily blog entries, three online classes (soon to be four), improving my skills as a programmer, outlining my NaNo novel, looking for a job, a pile of library books that I’m reading, a huge backlog on my Kindle, being a good husband and kitty daddy. I find myself worrying that there won’t be enough hours in the day, even tho I know that there would be if I wasn’t running around in a circle trying to do everything at once and wearing myself out.

I’ve had to learn that, whatever I’m doing, that’s the only thing I’m doing. When I’m reading, I’m not checking email on my phone. When I’m learning, Facebook and Twitter vanish. When I’m looking for work, I’m not worried about the skills I don’t have, I’m focused on finding a job with the skills that I do. As Yul Brynner would say, “Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.”

So, my full answer is: Life is all about showing up and paying attention.

How would you complete Jenny’s sentence?